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SEO Basics: Keyword Research

Ross Beyeler

This is the second post in Growth Spark's SEO Basics for Business Owners series.

Take each of your customer profiles and come up with a list of words you think they will type in Google to try to find your product or service. This brainstorm is step number one of keyword research.

Make sure that if you're in the shoe business, don't just think of generic words like "shoes" and "boots." Think of what people will really be looking for like "women's wide running shoes" or "sheepskin moccasin." Most people type in 2-word, 3-word, and 4-word phrases because they at least have an idea of what they want.

One- and two-word keywords are the hardest to rank for because they are the most generic. More than 200 million websites include the word "shoes," but only 4 million include "sheepskin moccasin." Even less show up for the 4-word example above. Don't be discouraged by seeing results in the millions. As the vast majority of those sites are not optimized, you are already one step ahead. That being said, being a big fish in a small pond is always the better decision.

There are a lot of free keyword tools you can use to help you figure out what ones to go for.

  • Wordtracker - One of the classic and reliable keyword tools. Offers search volume and alternate keywords for any given phrase
  • Google Adwords Keyword Tool - The most popular keyword tool, gives you results of search volume and advertiser competition for keywords based on either a phrase you type in, paragraph of text, or webpage entered by URL.
  • SEObook - Keyword tool based on Wordtracker. Gives back a lot of useful data all at once

Once you find a list of keywords that fit your site, group them into categories. You should have each page of your site focus on no more than 5 very similar keywords to start. Also, try not to overlap your keywords. That way, when someone searches for a specific keyword, the search engine will not have to guess which page of your site to bring up; there will be one page that is clearly the best choice. Search engines tend to only show one page from one website in the search results at a time.

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